ADDED COMMENTARY VERY BOTTOM 9-13-06
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Teddy Jacobson - Pistolsmith
Springfield Armory Mil-Spec "Progress Report"
By Stephen Camp
Since I wrote "A Critical Look at the Springfield Armory Mil-Spec" in January 2005, many more rounds have flown downrange and I thought that it might be of interest on how the pistol has held up and any problems. (That article is in this section of the site for those interested.)
The pistol worked fine as it came from the factory, but had a less-than-stellar trigger pull and the hammer spur nipped me regularly. I bobbed the hammer and eliminated that and also used a Pachmayr drop-in grip safety to eliminate the wear and tear caused by the sharp edges of the factory grip safety. Not happy with that set up, I eventually rounded the edges of the factory GI-type grip safety and this pretty well solved the problem.
I find that with the rounded GI grip safety and a slightly shortened spur hammer, I can comfortably shoot the pistol about 200 full-power loads without problems. I much prefer the wide grip safety, but wanted at least one 1911-pattern pistol that somewhat resembled the unmodified 1911 stalwart. (Some seem to think that because they have no problems with the GI type grip safety, no one else should either. Frequently, comments like, "If beavertails were needed, John Browning would have put them on the gun," and other such information-filled eloquent pearls of …crap. Different folks find that different things work for them and if you are one better served with the wide grip safety, go for it. If the standard type works fine for you, great, but I submit that it is up to the individual user to make the decision.)
Even though the pistol was working fine and in stock condition, I did upgrade the internal parts with those supplied by trigger specialist, Teddy Jacobson of Actions by T. The trigger was initially just shy of about 5-lbs, with the break being both crisp and clean. It settled in at about 4 1/2-lbs and has stayed there. The gun was equipped with a steel firing pin as well, but the slide stop and single-side thumb safety have been left alone. The wide EMC spur hammer he provided is finely checkered and has been bobbed and recontoured to eliminate hammer bite.
I kept the factory short trigger, but smoothed it up. I also replaced the mainspring housing for another arched one that I already had. It has no lock and standard size parts work in it. Though not at all necessary, I replaced the checkered plastic stocks that came with the pistol for a set I simply think looks better while still offering a secure grip.
This Mil-Spec .45 auto has proven itself utterly reliable with a wide selection of bullet types and is one I trust for "serious matters."
I have not kept an exact round count, but it is in excess of 4K as this is written. Most of these have been either 200-gr. CSWC handloads at about 870 ft/sec or 230-gr. CFP and CRN at roughly 840 ft/sec. It has also gobbled up several hundred 230-gr. Federal HydraShoks, Golden Sabers, Gold Dots, Ranger JHP's, and ball rounds.
With any full-power load, it has had zero malfunctions, not one. There have been no failures to extract or eject and the slide stop consistently locks back when the last shot's fired and not before.
The sights on this gun are as they came from the factory. They were properly regulated and I've seen no reason to change them.
Slide-to-frame fit both vertical and horizontal has very, very little "slop." The barrel-to-slide fit has remained solid as a rock, with wear marks evenly distributed on the rear edge of the barrel hood. I have no intentions of changing either the factory barrel or bushing as the gun groups very nicely as is.
The pistol's parkerized finish is holding up nicely, though a ding or two is now present.
Wear marks are not excessive and evenly distributed on both sets of slide rails.
It is my understanding that the Mil-Spec is not so easy to find as in the recent past. I do not know if that is because gun dealers sell them as fast as they get them or if SA is focusing on other models, or what, but if you want a relatively inexpensive no frills 1911-pattern .45, I would give these a long and hard look.
I own several 1911 pistols, most being more costly than the Mil-Spec, but I trust none of them more than I do this one.
This Mil-Spec has proven itself to me. It groups adequately and has demonstrated extreme reliability while being essentially a "basic" type 1911 pattern pistol. The 9mm/38 Super firing pin used has presented no problems with either breakage or firing. The gun runs on everything I've tried with the exception of a very light target SWC that was loaded too lightly for the gun's standard power ISMI 16-lb recoil spring. All standard pressure and +P loads have worked flawlessly.
Four thousand full power loads are certainly not that many compared to what more than a few serious shooters crank off in a year's time. I think that they've been enough to prove to me (at least) that the old saw that a 1911 has to cost thousands to be reliable is pretty much false…but many already know that.
Do I believe that all Mil-Specs will run flawlessly out of the box? Nope, but the last 5 or 6 I have seen sure have. With the immense continuing popularity of John Browning's enduring design, factories crank them out as fast as they can and some that shouldn't have got past quality control simply do. It is not right, but such seems to be the case. That said, I believe that the Mil-Spec is a very, very fine choice for folks wanting a quality 1911 without breaking the bank.
A gun does not have to be ultra-expensive to be special. I would not hesitate to use this one in a fight if required. When I carry a 1911 for self-protection, it is almost always this one.